Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto are working to determine the future of the easternmost section of the Gardiner Expressway. This is the section of the elevated highway that runs from Jarvis Street to east of the Don Valley Parkway and that runs next to or through the new waterfront communities that are under construction or being planned.
We have undertaken a multi-year comprehensive environmental assessment (EA) and integrated urban design study to examine the feasibility, impacts and costs of potential options for the elevated roadway including its removal, replacement, enhancement, or maintaining the status quo. The EA and integrated urban design study process, which also includes the adjacent Lake Shore Boulevard, will guide what action is taken on the Gardiner.
While the EA includes a comprehensive study of both regional and local traffic impacts, the overall approach of the study is to assess the future of the Gardiner in the overall context of creating a better city. The urban design study is a central guiding component of the environmental assessment and is to ensure that the review process places an emphasis on quality of place.
The environmental assessment and integrated urban design study is a highly consultative process. Our goal is to engage the widest possible audience and insure that all views and concerns are included. Public suggestions, comments and concerns will be solicited throughout the review process. At least 16 public meetings will be held in locations across the City and a dedicated consultation website www.gardinerconsultation.ca has been built to enable online public involvement and input.
Project Consultants: Dillon Consulting Limited, Perkins+ Will, Morrison Hershfield
Size of the Gardiner being studied: 2.4 kilometres
Boundaries: west of Jarvis Street to Logan Avenue
The EA and integrated urban design study process started in early 2009 with the development of the study’s Terms of Reference (ToR). The Terms of Reference (ToR) are the blue prints for the examination process and define critical elements of the study including its goals, alternatives for consideration, evaluation process and consultation plan.
The Terms of Reference (ToR) were informed by valuable input provided by stakeholders and members of the public through various consultation channels. Consultation included two rounds of four public meetings held in locations across the City plus two workshops with a broad range of stakeholder groups. The public was also able to participate through a dedicated consultation website.
Toronto City Council approved the Terms of Reference (ToR) on May 6th 2009, and they were submitted to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for approval in September 2009. After a 12-week review period, which included a period for public comments, the Minister of the Environment approved the study Terms of Reference (ToR) on November 30th 2009.
The actual EA and integrated urban design study itself official launched in April 2010. It is expected to take three years to complete.
The Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway was constructed at a time when Toronto’s downtown waterfront was still considered a heavy industrial area, providing the city with goods and materials but not a civic waterfront
destination. In 1955, after more than a decade of planning, construction began on the at-grade segments west of the city. In 1958, construction began on the elevated segments from Dufferin Street through the central downtown area, reaching York Street by 1962, the Don Valley Parkway by 1964, and finally Leslie Street by 1966.
Almost from the start of construction, critics began calling for the highway’s elimination. Its controversial route required the taking of substantial amounts of park land, demolition of the popular Sunnyside Amusement Park, destruction of the Jameson Avenue portion of the Parkdale residential neighbourhood, and the elimination of many local access routes to the waterfront from upland areas. It also necessitated the complete reconfiguration of Lake Shore Boulevard through the central downtown to allow the Gardiner Expressway to be built above it. In the process, Lake Shore Boulevard went from a grand, tree-lined avenue to little more than a highway collector route, cast in constant shadow from the overhead structure and interrupted by the changing grid of structural concrete columns.
Efforts to remove portions of the elevated Gardiner Expressway have surfaced since its completion in 1966. In 2001, the eastern-most segment of the Gardiner Expressway from the Don Valley Parkway to Leslie Street was demolished at the urging of urban planners and local constituents. The removal of the segment between Bouchette Street to Leslie Street, was completed in 2003.